Planning a Parklet

Tips, links and downloads for planning your parklet

Your first step in the planning process is to seek all relevant local information. Try searching ‘CITY_NAME Parklet Program’ in your web browser.  In a number of municipalities, public authorities such as the Department of Transportation have introduced ‘Parklet Programs’ and have produced comprehensive brochures detailing the application and approval process, fees, site and design considerations and ongoing maintenance requirements for their specific localities.  But you’ll find that the approval process and criteria differs city by city, so always try to obtain local information.

Apart from the Department of Transportation, other common city departments that control parklet programs are the Bureau of Planning, Office of Strategic Planning, Department of Public Works, Office of Planning, and Bureau of Transportation. If you are struggling to find information about parklets in your area, we suggest starting with any one of these local departments.

When searching for local information, be aware that public parklets are sometimes referred to as Walklets, Pedestrian Plazas, Curbside Seating, Street Seats (NYC and Portland), and People Spots (Chicago).  On the other hand, a privatized sidewalk seating area is often referred to as a Curbside Café, Sidewalk Café or Streatery, and operates as an extension to a retail establishment such as a coffee shop or deli. Permits and regulations for such private seating areas differ from those of parklets and are usually governed by a Planning Department or Department of Public Works.

 


Photo credit: “Parklets”, © 2012 Cidades para Pessoas, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Key Considerations in Initial Planning

  • All parklets require permits from relevant authorities. Be aware that most cities only accept new applications during a specific period each year and because parklets impact public spaces, the application and approval process will generally be quite lengthy.
  • Parklets must comply with all local regulations and design criteria, meet ADA requirements, maintain roadway drainage, allow for access to any below-ground utilities, be properly insured, and have community support. See our pages Site Considerations and Designing Your Parklet pages for more information on these matters.
  • As the owner of a parklet, apart from the initial cost of the permits, application fees and the parklet itself, you’ll need to accept the ongoing responsibility for keeping the parklet clean and maintained in good order. If you live in a location with snow clearing in winter, you’ll also be expected to bear the cost and responsibility of disassembling, storing and reassembling your parklet seasonally.
  • Due to the numerous benefits parklets bring to the public, some cities such as New York offer a significant reimbursement for eligible purchases related to materials, fabrication and installation of parklets. Inquire about this at your local city department that governs parklets.

Helpful Links and Downloads

NATCO

The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NATCO) is a non-profit association that represents large cities on transportation issues. They have created a comprehensive Parklet Guide containing a detailed list of critical, recommended, and optional elements that a Parklet should have, as well as a helpful list of Member Cities.

Pavement to Parks

Pavement to Parks is another source of excellent information. Based out of San Francisco where the parklet concept originated, this organization maintains a list of Parklet Programs By City which could be useful for formulating parklet ideas, depending on your location.

City Documents and Links

San Francisco – San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks website with detailed information about parklets.  Download Parklet Manual Here

New York – New York DOT web page with information about their ‘Street Seats’ program. Download Design Guidelines Here

Chicago – City of Chicago DOT web page with information about their ‘People Spot’ program. Download Design Guidelines Here

Los Angeles – City of Los Angeles web page with information about their ‘People Street’ Parklet program. Download People Street Manual Here

Philadelphia –  Article about City of Philadelphia’s collaboration with the University City District Organization for their first parklets. Download Parklet Guidelines and Application Here

Washington DC – City of Washington DOT web page with information about their Parklet Program. Download Design Guidelines Here

Seattle – Seattle DOT web page with information about their Parklet Program and Streatery Pilot Program. Download Parklet Handbook Here

Minneapolis – Minneapolis Public Works web page with information about their Parklet Program. Download Parklet Application Manual Here

Portland – City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation web page with information and guidelines about their ‘Street Seat’ program. Download Street Seat Manual Here

Boston  – City of Boston DOT web page with information about their Parklet Program. Download Boston Parklet Summary Guidelines Here

Phoenix  – Phoenix Department of Planning and Development with information about their Parklet Program. Download Parklet Guidelines Here